A BRIEF LOOK AT TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE©

The source of this information is given at the end.  It is a condensed version of the Introduction found in an 18th century Bible.  Anyone interested in purchasing a period Bible might want to check out Greatsite.com.  They offer quality facsimile editions of several historic Bibles and they are knowledgeable, friendly and eager to assist customers who seek to match a Bible to their impressions.  Below, right, is the Bible I purchased for Martin and we are well pleased with the quality.  1769 Oxford Standardized Revision of the 1611 King James Bible containing the 14 books of the Apocrypha which were later removed in the 1880s.

In the reign of Josiah, copies were written out, and a search made for all the other parts of the Scriptures by which means copies of the whole became multiplied among the people, who carried them into Babylon in their captivity.  (2 Kings xxii.  10, &c. 2 Chron. Xxxiv.  14, c.)

After their return from captivity and re-settlement in Jerusalem the prophet Ezra collected as many copies as he could of the sacred writings and translated into the Chaldee language.  About two hundred years later translations into Greek were made. 

After the establishment of Christianity, authors undertook new translations claiming to make them more conformable to the Hebrew text.  The first was the Jewish proselyte Aquila.  Others followed including Symmachus (a Samaritan). 

During Solomon’s time he complied and sent the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s Song, and Job, the only books then extant. 

Latin churches had in the first ages a translation of the Bible in their language, understood by every one and many versions followed.  One was called the common translation by St. Jerom the Vulgate.  This translation was so highly applauded by the Christian church, that some authors have pretended it was brought to perfection by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.  St. Jerom’s version was soon received in many churches and in the 6th century it became as general, and in as great esteem, as the ancient Vulgate.

The sixteenth century brought new Latin translations made of the Bible from the Hebrew text.  Sanctes Paginus, a Dominican monk, was the first. He was encouraged by pope Leo X.  Paginus’s version was first shown at Lyons in 1527.  His work was revised by Arias Montanus.

Cardinal Cajetan next attempted a translation and while he was not versed in the Hebrew he sought the aid of two persons, one a Jew and the other Christian.  Next Isidore Clarius, monk of Mount Cassin, undertook a translation which he claimed corrected some 8,000 passages of the Bible.  Besides translations made by catholic authors, there are some performed by protestant translators, the first of whom was Sebastian Munster. 

Munster’s version is more intelligible and written in much better Latin than that of Pagninus.  Leo Juda, a Zuinglian, printed a version in Zurich in 1543 which was followed by that of Robert Stepohens in 1545.  His was written in a more elegant style than Munster’s but some thought he often departed from the literal meaning of the Hebrew text for the sake of an elegant Latin expression. 

The next generation of translators included Sebastian Castalio, Junius and Tremellius, and Theodore Beza.  At this time there were versions done in Arabic, Coptic/Egyptian, Persian, Armenian, Georgian, Roman, and French.  Peter de Vaux, chief of the Waldenses lived about 1170.  Raoul de Presle’s translation was done during the reign of Charles V, King of France about 1380.  A version was published at Louvain by order of the emperor Charles V in 1550 and Isaac le Maitre de Sacy followed with his version published in 1672.  Versions followed in 1666, 1667, and 1670 and multiple translations of the New Testament.

Nicholas Malerme, a Benedectine monk printed the first Italian version at Venice in 1471.  It was translated from the Vulgate.  The first Spanish Bible mentioned by Cyprian de Valera appeared about 1500 followed by epistles and gospels by Ambrose de Montesin in 1512, the whole Bible by Cassiodore de Reynas in 1569 and the New Testament dedicated to the emperor Charles V byt Francis Enzinas, aka Driander, in 1543. 

The first known German translation of the Bible is that of Ulphilas, bishop of the Goths, about the year 360.  At the time the source of this information was printed, the oldest German printed Bible extant was that of Nuremberg printed in 1447, author uncertain.  The German Bible of John Eckius of 1537 has Emzer’s New Testament added and one by Ulembergius of Westphalia followed in 1630.  Martin Luther worked eleven years in translating the Old and New Testaments and published his work in 1522. 

There were Flemish Bibles, Danish versions, and Swedish adaptations including a revision in 1617 by order of king Gustavus Adolphus.  Near the mid-16th century, Bedell, bishop of Kilmore had a translation of the Old Testament in the Irish language. 

Adelm, bishop of Sherbourn who lived in 709 created an English-Saxo version of the Psalms, and Eadfrid, or Ecbert, bishop of Lindisferne, about te year 730 translated several books of scripture.  The Venerable Bede who died in 735 translated the whole Bible into Saxon.  A work made by Elfric, abbot of Malmesbury followed, published at Oxford in 1699.  Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury published an Anglo-Saxon version of the four Gospels in 1571, author unknown. 

John de Trevisa, a secular priest translated the Bible into English at the request of Lord Berkeley and finished it in 1357.  Wickliff followed during the reigns of Edward III and Richard II.  Manuscript versions are found in libraries today.  In 1534 an English version was done by William Tindal and Miles Coverdale.  During this time Cromwell and Cranmer voiced opinions on whether or not the people should have access to English Bibles.

Queen Elizabeth I caused to be done a version worked on by several learned men to compare it with the Hebrew and Greek languages and the effort was directed by Archbishop Parker. 

Perhaps the best known today, is the King James Version which proceeded from the Hampton-court conference in 1603, where many exceptions were made to the Bishops Bible, king James ordered a new one.  Fifty-four learned persons were appointed by the king as appear in his letter to the archbishop, dated 1604.  The King James Bible was published in 1610 and dedicated to the king.  Previous versions fell into disuse except the epistles and gospels in the Common-Prayer book which continued according to the bishop’s translation till the alteration of the Liturgy in 1661.  The psalms and hymns continued.

The men dedicated to producing the King James Bible included Andrew Downs who was responsible for the work on the Apocrypha. 

Thistledewbooks @ yahoo . com

Source:  “The Holy Family Bible Containing the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and the Apocrypha at Large, with Concise Explanatory Notes, on all the Difficult Texts of Scripture; wherein the Objections of Infidels are obviated, and the obscure Passages explained to the meanest Capacity”.  MDCCLXXVII.  Preliminary Discourse dated July 25, 1777.    

Published by thehistoricfoodie

I write articles for various magazines and books about foods and cooking techniques. My work centers primarily around historic foods and I travel throughout the country doing cooking demonstrations at various local, state, and national venues and teaching an occasional period cooking class. I've done cooking demonstrations on national and local television, including Chicago's WGN.

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